The Sting of Loss

Last week, my honey and went for a bike ride on one of our favorite trails. It was a beautiful day for a ride and we packed our helmets, a pump, snacks, water and bike gloves. We planned on doing 15 miles or so and then grab lunch at an Italian Restaurant nearby. This place has garlic knots to die for! Unfortunately we never made it to the restaurant and I am still craving those garlic knots.

A few miles into the ride I heard her quietly say “ouch” and when I asked what was wrong she said she had been stung by something.  My initial thought was “oh, no big deal it is just a bee sting.” Then a large glaring light bulb, that looked more like a spotlight the size of Texas went off in my head. My honey is allergic to bee stings.

We never saw the one that stung her
We never saw the one that stung her

We pulled over, inspected the sting on the back of her neck and discussed our options. She was stung a few years ago and only experienced a localized response and the last time she was tested it seemed as though she wasn’t allergic anymore. We decided to continue biking and if she experienced any symptoms we would turn around and return to the car.

After peddling  for a few minutes she said we should turn around. Her lips felt funny and her eyes were watering. Typically, I have a very good sense of time but that day everything seemed to be is slow motion. The return bike trip seemed to take twice as long as it should have. We didn’t talk much, both of us sensing the urgency of the situation. We did discuss if we should stop at the school to see if the nurse had an epi-pen in the event it was needed.

We didn’t make it back to the school.  We were still on the bike path, behind the ball fields when she asked me to call 911 and then said “NOW”. I fumbled for my phone which was in my pocket while we both continued to peddle. Every button I pushed was wrong. I had to dial those 3 digits at least three times before getting it right. All the while continuing to peddle and asking her to pull over. I finally told her to STOP peddling so I could make the phone call. We were still on the bike trail but close enough to the school where the ambulance could get to us.

After successfully calling 911, we waited for the ambulance to arrive.  I think we were both  feeling eerily calm and completely helpless all at once. She was still straddling her bike with both feet on the ground when she collapsed. I think she lost consciousness twice that day. Once before the ambulance arrived and once while the EMTs were getting her into the ambulance and administering medication. The EMTs were wonderful and got her the medicine she needed. The other emergency personnel helped me get both bikes, helmets, and water bottles back to the car as well as directions to the hospital.

Emergency personnel to the rescue
Emergency personnel to the rescue

Not only did I fumble to dial those 3 little digits on my phone to reach help. I struggled to get both bikes safely on the bike rack; kicking myself for not paying better attention when she loads them. I must have dropped each helmet and water bottle at least once and fought to get my bike gloves off of my sweating palms. Yet despite all of this chaos, I remained calm. It only took 5 minutes to drive to the hospital and I arrived without making a wrong turn.

The reality of the situation didn’t hit me until I arrived at the emergency room. There, I saw my honey already in a hospital gown with an IV in her arm looking incredibly pale. It took just a few minutes after being stung for her to show signs of going into anaphylactic shock which is a severe allergic reaction to the sting involving the whole body. If untreated, anaphylactic shock can cause death – this is serious business.

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I don’t think the reality of the situation really hit her for 2 days. She could have died from a bee sting because we didn’t bring the epi-pen. Think about it… We brought all of this bike gear and snacks and water but not the medicine to save her life.  This is a mistake we will not make again.

We were incredibly lucky that day. My honey was released from the ER within 2 hours and we went home. She has had a full recovery and is back to her usual wonderful self.

I spent last night at the cottage and as I walked across the dock looking at the lake, I mumbled to myself “God, it is so beautiful”.  I smiled to myself as I realized I was learning to appreciate what I have. A few other lessons I am learning:

  • To express gratitude for the good in my life
  • To enjoy the company of those I spend time with
  • To smile, laugh and love more freely
  • To relinquish the need to control everything
  • To embrace an attitude of “it’s good enough” vs striving for unobtainable perfection
  • To count my blessing instead of my belongings
  • To remember it’s not what I have in my life that is important. It is who I have in my life and how I feel about them.

As I turned my head toward the sun to feel its warmth, I heard a bee buzz and I watched it land on a flower. I heard the flutter of a hummingbird and watched it hover in midair before continuing on its path. I stopped and watched a seagull fly overhead.

All the while smiling and feeling grateful that my honey is fine and my life is good!

I’m not sure when we will get on the bike path again. But the first thing we will pack is that darn epi-pen!  I choose health for my honey in my little blue kayak.

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